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US Farm Bill Contains Huge GE Propaganda Programme

9 May 2002

US Farm Bill Contains Huge GE Propaganda Programme - Greens

Not only does the United States Farm Bill introduce a $400 billion, 10 year subsidy programme for US farmers, it also sets aside NZ$180 million to convince overseas markets to accept genetically engineered crops and food, Green Agriculture Spokesperson Ian Ewen-Street MP said today.

Under Section 333 of the Bill a programme to 'enhance foreign acceptance of agricultural biotechnology and US agricultural products developed through biotechnology' is given US$15 million per year between 2002 and 2006.

"The Bill sets aside around NZ$180 million to convince other nations to accept GE exports. The Bill proposes to do this by 'education and outreach' and also 'rapid responses' to situations where US exporters are 'harmed by unwarranted and arbitrary trade barriers due to marketing of biotechnology, food safety'," said Mr Ewen-Street.

"Basically what this means is that the US will be flicking big chunks of money to pro-GE lobby and PR groups to try and sell the public on the need for, and the safety of, genetically engineered foods.

"This Bill sets aside a huge chunk of money to do this which shows how seriously the United States take the global rejection of genetically engineered foods. They have invested vast sums of money in developing crops which consumers are actively avoiding and they are facing a collapsing market share as people turn increasingly to natural products," he said.

"The New Zealand organic industry has boomed since the development of GE crops. People simply don't want GE foods and are prepared to pay high premiums to avoid them."

Mr Ewen-Street said the money in the Bill was a public relations slush fund and anticipated most of it would be spent on key areas of resistance such as the European Union. He said this was nothing more than an advertising campaign designed to limit the losses the US has already incurred.

"If GE foods really were so good, why don't they label them as such? The answer to that is, of course, that labelling is death to the GE corporates. People will only buy GE if they don't know what they are buying.

"I wonder if Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton considers this NZ$180 million fund to be either another form of subsidy or a non-tariff barrier to trade?" asked Mr Ewen-Street.


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